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(Spilling the) Backyard Beans!

Beans are a lot less messy than sand!

Beans are a lot less messy than sand!

For as long as he’s been mobile enough to find his own toys and activities, Cullen has been really into cups. Coffee cups, yogurt cups, big cups, small cups, bath cups, dirty cups—you name it, he wants to have it. Every measuring cup that I own has since been relegated to a toy bin or a dirty outdoor bucket.

What started as a love affair with the cups themselves has graduated into a new practice of digging, dumping, pouring, and drinking. Cullen loves to transfer things from one cup to another, whether that is water, sand, or just bits of paper or whatever else he can find laying around. Now that summer is here, we’re doing a lot of water table and backyard pool splashing. But it’s a pain to have to deal with wet clothes and a huge mess every time he wants to play for just ten minutes. Sand produces a similar issue. Do you know how often I am out back beating sand out of his shoes?

Last week, I found an alternative. Beans! I took a few bags of dried beans I had been holding onto (and let’s be honest, I was never actually going to cook them) and poured them into a big shallow tupperware container. I grabbed a few measuring cups and smaller scoops, and took the set up out to the back deck. Ever since, we have been out there at every waking moment.

Doing something like bean or rice bins is nothing new (although it is new to us), it’s a very Montessori-type of teaching method. This is something I’m really interested in trying to learn more about and offer more of to Cullen, as the Montessori-approach to learning seems to really lend well to his style of play and engagement.

In just a few days of playing in the beans, I can already see him spilling less and trying more. And of course the major silver lining here is that there is virtually no cleanup , no sandy or wet clothing, just a quick pickup of any spilled beans that can be scooped right back in for next time. Best of all, it was basically free. The bags of beans probably cost $3 total (and I bought them forever ago), and all the other containers and cups came straight from our kitchen. Next up—rice!

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